|Emily Krainik, Manager of the Champagne Bar|
Sometimes James and I do things here at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in Asheville which we really enjoy and would like to share with you but are not meaty enough for a full blog entry on their own. Here is a grab bag of items from the last few months which might be fun if you are traveling to Asheville.
|Salt & Vinegar Chips at the Gourmet Chip Company|
In a previous post (Dec. 6, 2009) I told you about Asheville Food Tours, a wonderful way to get a taste of some of the many restaurants Asheville is famous for. Well, move over Food Tours, there’s a new man in town! Eating Asheville is a new food tour with a different twist. Our tour started in one of James and my favorite spots, the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, where we met up with our hosts and tour guides Josh and Steven. After a light Italian Prosecco welcoming drink we moved on to our first stop, Cafe Solace. The Cafe Solace has taken over the location of the former Flying Frog Restaurant. Chef/owner Brian Kimmett is dedicated to true local sourcing of foods, many of which come from his own farm. The restaurant has received some excellent reviews although my experience there has been mixed. I think he has some great ideas and with experience will refine the flavor profiles into a number of compatible dishes. When I asked Josh what made this tour different from the others available in Asheville, he told me that, along with trying to be upmarket and sophisticated, they wanted to concentrate a little more on the sites and history of our town so that the walking part of the tour would be more than just a way to get from restaurant to restaurant, and they did make an effort to point out some of the more interesting architectural buildings as we went along.
|The Historic S&W Building|
Our next stop was the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, another favorite of James and mine for a special after-dinner stop or afternoon treat. The owners of the Chocolate Lounge believe that anyone can make chocolate from purchased chocolate powder, the challenge is in roasting and grinding one’s own beans which they do on the third floor of their building. In addition to a “dazzling array” of chocolates and desserts, the lounge offers wine, beer and live music to complete the package.
On the way to Vinsite where we concluded our tour with a wine and cheese tasting, we stopped off at The Gourmet Chip Company, a trendy shop offering freshly flavored kettle chips for those who would prefer real flavoring on their chips. Overall, it was an interesting and informative way to spend the afternoon. I especially liked that the tour starts at 2PM so I could call it a late lunch!
|Trees beginning to change in our backyard: percentage change?|
High Season in Asheville is considered to be October when the warm sunny days and lovely cool nights combine with gloriously beautiful leaf color in the mountains to make the city sparkle. This year, the Carolina (namely me) joined the Fall Foliage Network as “leaf spotters”. Twice a week, I am asked to fill out a brief questionnaire concerning the amount of leaf color change and leaf drop in our neighborhood. This report is combined with those of other spotters in the area to give you an up-to-the-minute report of the Autumn display. I know it sounds kind of lame but it’s actually sort of fun. For one thing, it makes me really look at the trees around the house and in the mountains. Estimating the percentage of leaves which have changed color can be challenging. If one tree is fully changed and three others are not, should that be classified as 25% change, or is that tree an anomaly?
This weekend the Greek Orthodox Church down the street from us held its Annual Greek Festival, a three day celebration of Greek culture, crafts and, of course, food! Last year James and I were unable to get away for a peek but this year we made a special effort to get down there. The church and church hall form a large complex about a block from the inn. .
This year, as last year, we noted what seemed to be an unusual number of people making the trip to the Montford neighborhood for the festival.I have to say, I think it’s the food that’s the main draw. There is no question that it is absolutely authentic and prepared on the scene. In fact, it seemed like every Greek Grandmother in town was working somewhere on site preparing or selling food.
Arriving at the entry we immediately came upon a large tent offering Greek coffee brewed in a small pot over a wood fire along with some form of doughnut which was being prepared as one waited. After passing through the coffee tent, James and I shot a glance over at the dancing but mostly followed our noses into the church hall, the “Agora” for the day. I stopped to take a picture of a succulent and luscious lamb shank (which the men at the counter insisted on placing next to the computer screen showing the poster they had designed). James and I got about halfway out the door before deciding we needed to go back and buy one for our dinner. Probably one of our better thoughts for the day, it was delicious! If you are interested, the Greek Festival is held annually in late September.